Effects of Eye Gaze Direction on Vocal Imitation in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Does Joint Attention Matter?

Marie Postma-NilsenovaTilburg University
Mariska van KastelTilburg University
Martijn BalstersTilburg University

Abstract

Several recent studies showed the effect of eye gaze direction on both instructed and spontaneous imitative behavior, as well as the acquisition of action-effect binding. In particular, direct eye gaze of a model gesturer/talker, compared to averted eye gaze, gives rise to faster gesture imitation and better vocal imitation, and reinforces intersubjective stimulus-effect learning. In an experiment with Autism Spectrum Disorder participants and a control group (N = 32), we explored vocal imitation in conditions with engaged eye gaze, averted gaze and gaze establishing joint attention. We found that speakers from both groups were least likely to mimic the vocal patterns of the model talker in a condition with joint attention. The finding suggests that establishing joint attention by gaze directing negatively affects vocal imitative behavior.

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Effects of Eye Gaze Direction on Vocal Imitation in Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Does Joint Attention Matter? (9.9 MB)



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